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Council is conned out of £102k of taxpayers’ money by African fraudsters

Sep 24 2010 By Janice Burns

AN AFRICAN fraud gang have conned a hard-up Scots council out of £102,000 of taxpayers’ money.

Furious South Lanarkshire councillors last night demanded an investigation into how their finance officials could have been fooled by the fraud.

But they insisted the plot was far more sophisticated than the ham-fisted Nigerian email scams that annoy computer users across the country.

The west African crooks targeted the council, who are facing £55million of budget cuts, by posing as one of their suppliers.

They sent a letter on fake headed paper which claimed the company’s bank details had changed. It asked officials to use a new account to pay their bill.

Staff fell for the scam and forked out the money, then had to pay another £102,000 to the real suppliers.

And there’s little chance of getting the lost cash back because the council are not insured against outside fraud.

Graeme Horne, deputy leader of the council’s opposition SNP group, said the Nats would demand a probe into the blunder.

He added: “We will be making recommendations to the finance department to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Horne went on: “This has been professionally done by a gang in an African country. It wasn’t like the email scams sent to people’s home computers.”

A spokeswoman for the Labour council confirmed: “Forged documents instructing a change of bank details were used to obtain fraudulent payment of £102,000.

“The council is confident no member of staff is involved in the fraud.”

Strathclyde fraud cops are investigating the con as part of a nationwide probe involving several forces.

News of the fraud broke just days after the council warned householders about a council tax scam in their area.

Crooks have been calling people to tell them their homes have been put in a lower council tax band – and asking them to hand over their bank details to receive a refund.

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September 30, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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